ACC Basketball 2012-13: Predicting the Most Improved Player on Each ACC Team

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2012

ACC Basketball 2012-13: Predicting the Most Improved Player on Each ACC Team

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    The offseason is not a time to rest. It's a time to get better.

    Strength building and skills development don't happen much once official practices begin for college basketball teams in mid-October.

    Those important improvements take place during time spent in the weight room and the gym in April through September.

    Here's a lightning-fast look at who could be the most improved players on each ACC team.

Patrick Heckmann, Boston College

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    Patrick Heckmann had a fantastic first half to his freshman season at BC.

    The 6'5" guard from Germany scored in double figures in eight of the Eagles' 14 pre-conference games.

    He lit up UC-Riverside by scoring 32 points on 9-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 from beyond the arc) and a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. This was the most points scored by any ACC freshman the entire 2011-12 season.

    Unfortunately for Boston College, Heckmann missed seven ACC games because of mononucleosis.

    Even after he returned to play the last four games of the season, Heckmann didn't return to his early season form.

    With a full offseason to recover and develop his game, Heckmann will be a main factor in the Eagles' rebuilding process.

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

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    K.J. McDaniels is a long, athletic wing who definitely has huge upside.

    He is great in the open court and has no trouble getting to the rim to get things done.

    Last year as a freshman, McDaniels only averaged 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

    But he showed how good he could be when he was given significant minutes.

    McDaniels responded to his first start by scoring 14 points, grabbing five rebounds and blocking five shots in an early ACC matchup against Virginia Tech.

    In the Tigers' last regular-season game against Florida State, he had 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals.

    If McDaniels stays focused and refines his skills, he could do more than have an occasional big night.

Quinn Cook, Duke

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    As a high school junior, Quinn Cook was one of the nation's top point-guard prospects. Unfortunately for him, right before his senior year, Cook injured his right knee and missed a huge portion of his final high school season.

    After arriving at Duke, he tweaked that same injury during the summer and was held out the Blue Devils' four preseason exhibition games in China and Dubai.

    During the early ACC season, Cook again aggravated the same right knee and never appeared to be at full speed the rest of the season.

    Even still, Cook showed signs of being the strong floor leader that the Blue Devils need in the 2012-13 season.

    He took care of the ball, committing only 18 turnovers in 387 minutes played and having an excellent 3.5 assists-to-turnover ratio.

    Duke Hoop Blog recently reported that "Cook played great at the N.C. Pro-Am, showcasing his floor leadership, his great court vision, his shooting touch."

    If Cook can stay healthy, take charge of running the offense, distribute the ball and knock down open shots, he will make Duke one of the best teams in the country.

Terrance Shannon, Florida State

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    Terrance Shannon has developed steadily over his first three years at Florida State.

    Last year, the 6'8", 240-pounder was averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds off the bench until he separated his shoulder in the seventh game of the season. The injury required surgery and ended his junior season.

    Earlier this summer, Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton announced that Shannon was "progressing well and should be 100 percent before the start of preseason practice in October."

    With the graduation of FSU big man Bernard James, Shannon will have an excellent opportunity to provide the size and muscle that the 'Noles will need to challenge again for the ACC title.

Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech

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    Daniel Miller started to put it all together during the final month-and-a-half of the 2011-12 season.

    As Tech was looking to fill the void left by the suspension and eventual dismissal of leading scorer and rebounder Glen Rice Jr., Miller stepped up.

    Starting with Tech's game against Florida State on Feb. 1, the 6'11'', 260-pound center averaged just under 10 points and eight rebounds per game.

    Last year, Miller was No. 2 in the conference in blocked shots with 75.

    Head coach Brian Gregory is counting on Miller's continued emergence on both ends of the court.

    If Miller puts it all together this season, Tech has a good chance of getting out of the ACC cellar and becoming a factor in what could be a competitively deep conference race.

Nick Faust, Maryland

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    When you are as talented as Nick Faust, people have high expectations. Last season, first-year head coach Mark Turgeon used the Baltimore native at all three of the perimeter positions.

    After working his way through an up-and-down first half of his freshman year, Faust came on strong in Maryland's final nine ACC games.

    Starting with a 15-point, eight-rebound performance against Duke in mid-February, the slender 6'6" guard averaged 13.4 points, nearly five rebounds and 2.2 assists.

    As much attention as Faust gets for his offense, he is a skilled defender who was No. 2 on the team in steals with 67.

    Faust will likely find himself back on the wing this season, and the Terrapins will count on him to be a consistent threat on both ends of the court.

Shane Larkin, Miami

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    Shane Larkin had a super-solid freshman year.

    Though his numbers were not eye-popping (7.4 ppg; 2.5 rpg; 2.5 apg), his unselfish, team-oriented play made a difference.

    After coming off the bench much of the season, he played alongside scoring guards Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott for most of the second half of the year.

    Larkin is a tenacious on-ball defender with a high basketball IQ.

    While he is not likely to be the Hurricanes' go-to guy, there is a good chance that Larkin will emerge as a significant contributor on a Miami team that could move into the upper tier of the conference standings.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina

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    James Michael McAdoo came to Chapel Hill with a big-time reputation and seemed ready to launch a big-time hoops career.

    While the Tar Heels didn't need JMM to turn the world upside down, they were probably expecting a little more production out of the 6'9" forward from Norfolk, Va.

    Coming off the bench to back up Tyler Zeller and John Henson, McAdoo averaged 6.1 ppg and 3.9 rpg.

    When he was briefly moved into the starting lineup at the end of the year (because of Henson's injury), McAdoo responded by averaging 12 points per game.

    This coming season, McAdoo won't be a backup. He will be a main component of the UNC attack.

    I fully expect him to get going in a big way, elevating his game as much as anyone in the conference.

Scott Wood, N.C. State

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    Three-point shooting is Scott Wood's game.

    Seventy-two percent of his made shots last year were from beyond the arc, and he hit 41.1 percent of his three-pointers, which led the Wolfpack and was No. 5 in the ACC.

    Even though Wood was a double-digit scorer last year (12.4 ppg) as a junior, watch for him to have a breakout senior season.

Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

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    Malcolm Brogdon was Virginia’s top reserve for most of the season.

    The 6'5" guard from Norcross, Ga., knocked down 40 percent of his shots and scored 6.7 ppg and grabbed 2.8 rpg.

    With the departures of seniors Mike Scott and Sammy Zeglinski, the Cavs will be looking to replace their offensive production (25 ppg).

    If Brogdon's injury (broken bone in his right foot that kept him out of UVa's final four games) has healed completely, look for him to become one of Tony Bennett's featured weapons.

Jarrell Eddie, Virginia Tech

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    Jarrell Eddie went from a lightly used freshman to a super sophomore.

    The 6'7" forward from Charlotte, N.C., was the Hokies' best three-point shooter, knocking down 44.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

    He was also Tech's  No. 2 rebounder (4.8 rpg) and No. 3 scorer (9.1 ppg).

    With the graduation of Dorenzo Hudson and the transfer departure of Dorian Finney-Smith, look for Eddie to team up with Erick Green to form a dynamic one-two punch.

Chase Fischer, Wake Forest

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    Chase Fischer is a long-distance shooting specialist.

    He has a nice catch and shoot game and is fully able to knock down shots from all over the court.

    As a freshman, Fischer averaged 6.3 ppg and was fourth on the team in both assists (46) and steals (24).

    Look for the 6'3" West Virginia native to become a more lethal weapon in 2012-13.